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COVID-19 cases have surged past 2,000 in Canada as the death toll reached 24.

Globally, there are 392,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, while deaths have passed 17,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy’s death toll has doubled compared to China, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is providing an update now, before Parliament sits for an emergency session. Once more, he is pushing the urgent need for Canadians to social distance.

Follow our minute-by-minute coverage below on all breaking COVID-19 news happening today.

P.M. Trudeau said Tuesday:

“We are braced for a broad range of scenarios, we have put contingency plans for next steps, depending on what trajectory the virus takes in Canada or indeed, around the world.”

He said at this time the border restrictions the government has implemented with their U.S. counterparts, which bans all non-essential travel both ways, are sufficient. “As the situation evolves," he said, "we will be ready to shift our posture.”

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday it was seeing a “very large acceleration” in coronavirus infections in the United States which had the potential of becoming the new epicentre.

Over the past 24 hours, 85 per cent of new cases were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters. Of those, 40 percent were from the United States.

Asked whether the United States could become the new epicentre, Harris said: “We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential.”

The new fatalities offer a stark illustration of the outbreak’s deepening human toll at a time when President Donald Trump is considering scaling back containment efforts in hopes of preventing further economic turmoil. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the federal government would reassess social distancing guidelines at the end of the month.

Elsewhere, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all nonessential shops will close, travel will be restricted, and police will enforce social distancing if necessary. The drastic new steps to slow the spread of coronavirus included advising all people to stay at home, only to venture out to buy groceries and medicine, and to exercise once a day.

In a nighttime address to the nation, Johnson said people will only be allowed to leave their home for “very limited purposes.”

The measures bring Britain closer to the kind of full lockdowns enforced in Spain and Italy, the latter of which marked 608 coronavirus deaths Monday, bringing its total to 5,476 — more than any other country. The daily figure remains high, but it has not continued to rise. Spain extended its lockdown for another 15 days as the national death toll surged more than 25 per cent. Spain has more than 33,000 confirmed cases, and its prime minister warned that “the worst is yet to come.”

With files from Reuters.

Sandra P.    3/24/2020


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